By Bob Skolnik
After nearly 40 years on the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board of Education, John Polacek has decided that is enough.
Polacek, 76, who began serving on the school board in 1989, has decided to not run for an eighth term on the school board.
"I've enjoyed it," said Polacek, a dentist who still practices two days a week. "I thank the voters for electing me seven times and I've enjoyed our progress. We've done a lot of wonderful things at the school. I think the school is in the best shape, in any way you want to measure, that it's ever been."
Polacek grew up in LaGrange Park and graduated from LTHS in 1960. In high school he was a star distance runner who ran a 4 minute, 23 second mile and placed 7th at the state meet. He said that he is the first LTHS graduate to ever serve as the school board's president, which he did for a few years in the 1990s.
Polacek was actually defeated when he ran for a third term in 1997, but was elected again at the next election. He has long served as the board's finance committee chairman and has played a key role in teacher contract negotiations, including the one going on right now.
"He is a mentor, has been a mentor for new board members," said LTHS board President Tom Cushing, the second LTHS graduate to become president of the school board. "He's been a rock in terms of his knowledge and wisdom of the history of the place."
Current board member Phil Palmer, who is running for re-election also praised Polacek's role in keeping LT's finances strong.
"John has been somebody who has been keeping that budget sharp and on line for, gosh, 20 years probably," Palmer said.
Palmer and incumbent board member Barbara Rosinsky are both running for re-election to the LTHS board. There are three four-year terms up for grabs on the LTHS school board in the April 2, 2019 Consolidated Election.
"I've always had a real passion for the school there and just glad I can give back in some small part," said Palmer who graduated from LTHS in 1979 and owns Palmer Place restaurant in LaGrange with his brother, Steve.
"I really enjoy what I'm doing. I'm a business owner in LaGrange and you always want to give back to the community. … I think it's vitally important thing to have the best education system we can in our town for our kids."